Arnaud Causse - Ecuador
Farm: Las Tolas
Department and District: Pichincha – Quito
Altitude: 1600-1800 MASL
Process: Washed and Fermented for 24 Hours, dried on patio and parabolic drier for 18 hours
Notes: Cranberry, orange zest, vanilla bean
Arnaud Causse has an interesting story. He grew up in France in the mountains outside of Provence. After declining mandatory military service, Arnaud was shipped off to work on a Robusta plantation in Gabon, his first-ever experience with coffee production. When his service was up, his interest in coffee was just taking off. Arnaud spent many years working on coffee projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda before finding himself in the Dominican Republic. From there he moved to El Salvador, then to Costa Rica, and eventually landed in Ecuador. Arnaud’s extensive agronomy experience is unique. He has worked in more facets of coffee production than most producers.
Arnaud is an active leader in Las Tolas-based coffee production. He’s shared his varietals with three other farmers in the area. He has helped each of these farms get off the ground by providing the proper varietals and coaching them through production.
Las Tolas is an extraordinary place. The history alone is captivating. Tasting the coffees is a revelation. This producing region is located just a couple of hours north of Quito in the department of Pichincha, a heavily forested area with epic Andean views. Las Tolas is located in a small valley just off of Highway 1. For the indigenous Yumbos, who based their year on a lunar calendar, Las Tolas proved to be the only valley with enough of a break in the clouds to provide a clear view of the moon. It is a sacred area with ruins still scattered across its forests.
Arnaud Causse was drawn to Las Tolas for a similar reason. Most of Northern Ecuador lacks proper levels of sunlight for optimum coffee production, but the break in the clouds in Las Tolas provides much-needed light for coffee trees. The perfect amount of light, according to Arnaud. In addition to favorable sunlight, Las Tolas has outstanding altitude (1800-2100 masl), fertile soils, and receives an annual average of 1700mm of rainfall. Arnaud planted a couple of dozen hectares over 10 years ago with some very exciting varietals that he brought from El Salvador: Tekisik Bourbon, Caturra, and Pacamara.
Pichincha is a province of Ecuador located in the northern sierra region; its capital and largest city is Quito. Ecuador is tiny in geographical stature compared to its neighbors, and it’s tiny in its total coffee production as well. Loja, Zamora, and the southern corridor bordering Peru are the epicenter of Arabica coffee production in the country. Certain pockets within the departments of Carchi, Imbabura, and Pichichincha represent a very small portion of the country’s total coffee exports.
There is something about the farmers Red Fox works within the small valley in Pichincha, the dry climates, and high altitudes outside Catamayo that are absolutely intriguing. There are incredible coffee varietals all over the country — Tekisik from El Salvador, Guatemala-style Bourbon, versions of Typica reminiscent of Villalobos, distinctly Ethiopian-style varietals, Caturra, and more. For a guy who’s spent more than a decade traveling the world in search of its finest coffees, Ecuador is a paradise of potential. Throw in the fact that all of this coffee gets stored, milled, and packaged at 8,000 feet, and there is something special here.
Text and photos provided by Red Fox Coffee Merchants